Are you often at a loss for words in English? You have the opportunity to practice, but you don’t know what to say? When it comes to conversing in English, keeping the conversation going can be tricky. Whether you’re at a party or in a business setting, put these tips to use and you’re sure to turn out a small talk champion!
When opening a conversation, it’s best to choose safe topics like the weather, jobs, sports, hobbies and interests.
1. Where are you from? This is often the first question people ask each other. You could reply with a country or place, e.g. I’m from England or I’m from Dallas.
2. Is this your first trip to New York? This is a common question if one person is a visitor.
3. It’s hot today, isn’t it? Talking about the weather is a common small talk topic, especially in Britain.
4. What do you do for a living? This means Where do you work?, or What’s your job?
5. Did you see the match last night? Sports can also be a good small talk topic, but this might lead to arguments if you support different teams!
Topics to avoid
Although it depends on your culture, in general you should avoid taboo topics like politics, religion, age and marital status.
6. How old are you? Age is a sensitive topic, especially when a man asks a woman her age.
7. Have you put on weight? You should avoid comments about appearance. You might think you are paying someone a compliment, when you are actually offending them!
8. How much do you earn? Most people dislike talking about money and would be embarrassed if you asked their salary.
You can also improve your small talk techniques with these tips:
9. Ask follow-up questions to keep the conversation going. For example, if someone says, “I saw a really good film last night”, you could reply by asking, “Really? What was it about?”
10. Use appropriate responses to show you are listening. Suitable expressions include Oh?, Wow!, That’s great! or That’s too bad.